I’M CONSTANTLY SURPRISED BY THE APPARENT FATALISM OF THE AVERAGE AMERICAN.
Recently—technically from December 2007 to June 2009, but actually much longer—we experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression at a cost to the country of something in the order of $13 trillion. That is such a large number it is virtually impossible to grasp, but in practical terms house values dropped like a stone, personal net worth was slashed, and millions were arbitrarily put out of work. The scale of human misery was gargantuan—and, to a substantial extent, it continues; and will do so for a considerable time.
The Great Recession was not only a disaster for the period of the recession itself, but it stole much of our future growth potential for years, and vastly increased the National Debt. All in all, it inflicted truly terrible damage on the the economic welfare of most Americans—apart from the Ultra Rich who, along with the Big Banks and Big Business, have come out of the whole affair even richer.
Now you might think there would be coast to coast fury at such a development, and that those responsible would have been imprisoned—but instead the perpetrators were bailed out with taxpayer money, and the rest of the population largely left to sink or swim on their own.
And as for the outpouring of rage one might expect after such a financial Pearl Harbor, in practice there has been nothing of the sort apart from the Occupy movement, which seems to have fizzled. That is rather as if we had rewarded the Japanese for the attack on Pearl Harbor—and added a line of credit so they could buy more ships and aircraft with which to attack us once again; and that particular act of infamy had far less direct economic impact on the U.S. economy that the 2008 Great Recession.
Frankly, I don’t understand it; and I’m far from sure it indicates either a healthy democracy, or a well informed electorate. Instead, it smacks of deep disillusionment compounded by apathy—matched with a political system and media which are both either owned or dominated by the very same group whose actions cause the Great Recession in the first place. In effect the foxes are in charge of the hen house.
Well, maybe they will leave us alone. No, they won’t. Foxes naturally prey on hens and they will continue to do so until the hens realize there are more of them—and counter-attack.
The logical person to rally the population and lead the counter-attack is the president, but so far he has been such a cautious centrist that it begs the question: Is President Obama a fox or a hen?
Let me leave you with a few rather shattering data points taken from an Economic Policy Institute press release.
Between 1979 and 2008
- Average incomes in the U.S. grew by $10,401.
- ALL GROWTH went to the richest 10%.
- Income for the bottom 90% DECLINED.
The situation has further deteriorated since 2008—and costs for the average family have risen. A reasonable person might be forgiven for questioning the fairness and validity of an economic system which delivers such a dubious result. Yet the national silence on this crucial matter is deafening.